Annual wine tours can be a truly memorable and exciting tradition for you and your friends to enjoy. Wine tours can bring together diverse groups of friends who may not otherwise have met. Even if you are a novice wine drinker, annual wine tours offer a great way to learn about what kinds of wine you like and what kinds of wine you don’t really enjoy.
If you would like to plan your own annual wine tour, you can easily do so as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort. Planning an annual wine tour surprisingly can be a lot like a project in and of itself. If you have any project management skills at all, you may find an easier time planning a wine tour than those who don’t have those skill sets. If you treat your wine tour as a multi-part project, you should be able to successfully plan an unforgettable wine excursion for your closest friends.
Consider these tips to help you plan your own annual wine tour.
Research All the Options for Planning your Wine Tour
If you’ve never planned a wine tour before now, take it easy and slow to avoid getting overwhelmed. There are a lot of steps to go into the planning of your wine tour. Research is the most time-consuming and most tiresome of the steps. Once you have completed all the research needed in planning your wine tour excursion, you will find the remaining pieces of the planning to be much easier.
First you need to research wine tour transportation companies, such as those offering a limo bus or a special wine tour bus, trolley, or other luxury vehicle. The tricky part of planning your wine tour transportation is knowing how large or small of a vehicle you need. Depending on your group size, you can consider chauffeured vehicles from a standard limo (or even a town car) to a huge, luxurious wine tour bus. Some wine tour limo buses even have a bathroom on the vehicle!
Sometimes you may find yourself waiting on your friends, delayed at making your transportation reservations. If this is the case, you can still call the different transportation companies to find out which one will give you the best deal. Sometimes you might be able to get a better deal than advertised, especially if you are willing to make a deposit right away. Be prepared to plunk down about $300 or so for a deposit to reserve your ride. You should probably wait to reserve your wine tour transportation until you hear back from enough friends to make a judgment call on the vehicle size, but do not wait so long that you lose out on reserving something altogether.
As far as researching the wineries in your desired wine tour itinerary, there are a few key questions to ask. Find out if the winery can accommodate a group of your size first and foremost. If you don’t know how many people are going on your wine tour, estimate for now. Next you should ask about any tasting fees or costs to your group if you should visit. You can always ask for more details, but these are the two main questions you should ask every winery that you call.
Determine the Budget, Guest Count, and Wine Tour Bus Size for your Event
To help you plan your guest list, guest count, and wine tour bus size, not to mention your budget, you can send out an evite or any method of invitation that you prefer. The evite method is nice because it offers you a chance to poll your guests, for example about food choices and whether people would like to continue the party when your wine tour concludes.
Ask your guests what their budget would be for the cost of the bus and any other relevant fees such as driver tip and winery tasting fees. If your guests are on a tight budget, and many may be due to the economy, you may have to scour the area for wineries with free tastings. If your guests have more of a budget, you may be able to look at the wineries more objectively and choose those that best suit your group.
A note on guests’ RSVPs – whenever possible, do whatever you can to collect your guests’ money for the wine tour in advance. This way if anyone should back out at the last minute, it will be on their own dime and not yours.
Require your guests to RSVP to your event by a certain day and time. This way, you can book your wine tour transportation sooner rather than later, ensuring that you have a limo bus or other vehicle to take you around to your chosen wineries. The earlier you plan in advance, the better chance you have to learn about all the deals and possibly save money, although there is something to be said for the luck of finding a company with an open date with available transportation at the last minute. You can usually get a decent discount in these cases.
Make Reservations for your Wine Tour Transportation and Preferred Wineries to Visit
While many of your pals may be procrastinators and may not want to get back to you very early on, you do need to make the reservations for your wine tour transportation as early as possible. Ask the wine tour vehicle’s company if you are able to change the size of your reserved vehicle if you end up with too many or not enough guests. Some companies may let you do so as long as a bigger or smaller vehicle is available.
Once you have the wine tour bus booked, take the time to call back any of the wineries that interested you. You need to make sure they can accommodate your group size and you should also let them know roughly what time to expect your group to arrive.
Plan out the Finishing Touches and Other Details
Once you have the wine tour bus booked, your winery itinerary settled, and your guest list finalized, congratulations – you are almost there. Here are a few tips to help you plan out the finishing touches and other details for your wine tour.
• Plan at least one full meal and possible snacks for your day. Food placed in coolers tends to work well.
• Ask guests to bring snacks, bottled water, and/or a bottle of wine on the bus. Drinking a little wine on the bus can be lots of fun between stops.
• Consider ice breakers and other silly games to get your mixed group of friends interacting with each other.
• Be careful and keep the safety of your friends and guests in the forefront. Do not let anyone drink and drive.
• When you do visit a winery with free tastings, try to be as courteous as possible by buying a bottle or two of any types of wine that you liked.
Because your wine tour is a once-a-year event, you can probably justify paying a little more than you normally would for average weekend plans, but make sure you check on this with your guests. After you get one or two wine tours under your belt, you will be in great shape to continue planning the annual event indefinitely. Enjoy!